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Assurance of Oxygen given to Seniors by Medicare

Assurance of “Oxygen” given to Seniors by Medicare

Under the clouds of the proposed changes in the federal set to take effect from January 1 2009, a growing concern of limited availability of life-saving oxygen amidst seniors was answered by Medicare officials.

Laurence Wilson, from Centers of Medicare and Medicaid said today, that the concerns have grown out of many misleading representations made by certain companies dealing in medical equipments, which are majorly disappointed over the federal law changes.

Lawmakers have created an upper cap of three years on the duration for which government will pay the rent for oxygen concentrators.

Wherein the suppliers will need to maintain the equipment running for five years, the three year cap will start off from the next year for some patients.

Wilson further said that, consumers and insurance agents from states like Nebraska, Ohio, and South Carolina have raised concerns and the same has been heard out by the agency. An “organized flavor” is how he described the information that has been given to the consumers.

Wilson said that Medicare was hoping that the issue could be isolated; however concern is that the scare can be growing.

Medicare had also provided the Associated Press with a copy of one of many correspondences circulated to patients. The particular correspondence was from a company from Centerville, Ohio, named Halsom Home Care. The letter said that the company would be picking up equipments from the patients' home in the next six weeks. It further said that due to the decision from Medicare, life-saving oxygen services at home would not be available for patients anymore from any company.

On asking, the company's owner, Mike Zelinskas, said that the company had no intention of withdrawing services immediately as it could not. He further said that the purpose of the letter was to urge patients to get in touch with their congressmen. He added that, however a letter has already been drafted and will be circulated as a clarification.

According to statistics, approximately three million dollars is spent by Medicare for a million participants who require life-saving oxygen facilities. An estimated one third of these would use oxygen facilities for more than three years.

Medicare officials clarified that obligation on the part of a provider to maintain oxygen supplies and maintenance ends at the end of five years. Medicare will start paying rentals for another three year period.

Zelinskas clarified that he was skeptical if the government would go ahead with such a commitment. He said Medicare possibly feels that it is just a matter of two years for which the suppliers have to bear the cost of maintenance, after which billing may resume. But he was quite sure that this was not going to happen.

Medicare officials further said that, six months after the three year cap ends, it would pay for maintenance and servicing charges.

Wilson said that the agency will take strict disciplinary action against companies; it felt, were misleading consumers. The actions might vary from a warning letter to a cancellation of supplier's billing number.

He said that Medicare spends about $7200 over three years on an oxygen concentrator; whereas the gadget itself costs $600. Suppliers responded that most of the rental fee goes into reimbursement for expenses involved in servicing and repair of the equipment, and was leading to a inferior level of care for patients with chronic pulmonary and other diseases.

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